If you're new here, following the recommendations of this thread will ease your passage into the community of BYMCers. This is a very relaxed community, so there aren't very many hard-and-fast rules, but there are some things that you should be mindful of.
First: If you are trying to register for the forums, read this thread: http://www.backyardmetalcasting.com/...pic.php?t=1679
The confirmation process for new users is generally very slow, so you'll have to be patient. Unfortunately, I'm not involved in any of it, so I can't help you if you're having problems. The most I can do is forward your message to Adam Ziegler.
Update 04-16-09: Now that I'm an admin, I can handle forum registry. If you're having problems with the process, emailing me is likely to be the fastest way to handle it. Hopefully also, the process will be a bit faster than it has been in the past, but I can't make any guarantees on that.
If you're already able to post:
My job here is a moderator, not an administrator. I can lock, split, move, or delete threads, edit or delete individual posts, or promote threads to stickies or announcements. I can't do anything involving user management, creation of new subforums, site maintenance, etc. (If it's a pressing enough need, I can ask an admin to do it, but that will be a rare thing and won't happen quickly.)
Update: Not anymore.
Things written in red text are messages from me, acting as a moderator. Otherwise, I'm just an ordinary user. (On that note, please don't write things in red text that look like post edits or moderator actions, so as to avoid confusion.)
One of the closest things to a "rule" here is to be courteous to users with small screens and slow internet connections. Posting large pictures or long strings of unbroken text will "stretch" the screen horizontally, making it necessary to use the horizontal scroll bar to read, which is annoying. Likewise, posting too many images or ones with large file sizes will mean long waits for people using dial-up.
There are several methods of uploading images, but I use Photobucket, which is free. You do have to sign up for an account, which is fairly straightforward. Once you have a Photobucket account, you can set the maximum size of uploaded images with a drop-down menu under the uploader. When you upload images, Photobucket will automatically reduce to this size for you. I suggest setting it to "Reduce to: 640x480 (Large)," which is a convenient size for most pictures and about the largest that images can get without stretching small screens. You can also do the same thing with just about any image editor, before you upload your images.
I'm not going to bother with a 641px wide image or something, but generally, anything noticeably larger than 640px horizontally will get turned into a link instead of an image by me, when I see it. If you need to post large images, you can use links or smaller linked thumbnails so people can load the images separately from the rest of the thread.
Likewise, it's good to limit the total file size of your images to a little over half a megabyte (500-600K), which is roughly ten 640x480 images with decent JPEG compression (what most digital cameras will output). If you have a computer drawing with areas of a single color, you should save it as .GIF or .PNG instead, to take advantage of the smaller file size that these formats will create with such images. If you create a thread that you expect will contain lots of images (more than ~500k on a single page), it's good to put an image warning in the title. I will go back and do this to threads that accumulate images after the first post. (I haven't made any concerted effort to check old threads for large/too many images, because that's a huge amount of work: if you see a thread that desperately needs to be fixed, send me a private message with the URL.) Again, I don't rigorously check file sizes, but if there's a noticeable problem, I'll fix it by turning some of the images into links.
Large images in signatures are discouraged for the same reasons (plus that they take up a lot of vertical space on the page), and flashy animated GIFs and such are just plain annoying. Rules of general courtesy apply.
If you want to know how not to look at somebody else's signature image, use Firefox and download the add-on Adblock. You can then right-click and tell the browser to block that image. As a bonus, it automatically blocks most banner ads.
Long URLs are another culprit for page-breaking, and they can be fixed with URL tags. The syntax is as follows:
That creates an output like this (obviously, that site doesn't exist):Code:
This is a long URL.
You can also embed images into URLs to create clickable thumbnails, like so:
Note that to do that, you have to have both a small and a large copy of the same image uploaded.
Another point of etiquette, particularly for new users: The established users here occasionally get tired of answering the same beginners' questions over and over. You need to do research before asking, so you know what to ask if nothing else. If you're looking for places to do research, take a look at the Hall of Fame, a collection of threads with particularly good information in them, and my online foundry tutorial book, which I wrote specifically to answer a lot of common questions. If you still have a question after doing research, chances are high it's a specific question that everybody will be more than happy to answer for you. It's questions like "what's a crucible?" that are annoying, and extremely general questions like "I want to make a furnace and cast stuff with it, how do I do that?" are pretty much un-answerable without more specific information.
Off-Topic and Double Posts
I am generally very lenient about off-topic posts and 'topic drift' in a thread, because I've seen how discouraging off-topicness tends to stifle discussion. As a downside, this makes the forum harder to search for information. If what you have to say is worthy of its own discussion, and isn't closely related to the current discussion in a thread, I'd encourage you to make a new thread for it and simply post a link back to the old thread (if necessary). I can always split threads that end up going in two directions at once, if the topics aren't too intertwined.
Double posting is okay in certain circumstances (again, I'm pretty lenient), but please don't make multiple posts right after each other on the same topic. It's better to consolidate that into one post by using the "edit" button if you come up with something else to say after submitting, or just use cut and paste to quote more than one person in the same reply. If the thread has been inactive for a while between your last post, feel free to "bump" it with a double post (although it's generally considered somewhat obnoxious to bump just for the sake of doing so, without also adding useful content). Also, if you're posting on different topics in a thread that's begging for a split (say, welding and politics), making each topical response a separate post will make my job easier when I split the thread. If you accidentally make exact duplicate posts (usually because of a glitch in the forum), don't worry if you can't delete the extras--I'll get it when I see it.
Other common-sense rules of etiquette apply (be civil, use reasonably correct grammar so people can read your posts, etc.), but I probably don't even have to mention that.
If you have a problem with a moderator decision or think something should be done a different way, I encourage you to talk to me about it. If the incident is best not discussed in an open forum, use the board's private message feature; otherwise you can post in the thread in question (as long as you don't anticipate derailing it with a discussion of moderation) or make a new thread in "Updates and Suggestions."